Top 16 Reasons I’m Retiring Early

I’ve never done a cheesy ‘list’ post, so this should be fun. It’s like I’m a hack, Yahoo, finance writer.

The top ten sixteen reasons I’m retiring before 30.

16. Studying

I’m immensely curious and I like mastering subjects. I’m over educated as it is, but there are still a number of areas where I have a lot to learn, in particular, higher-level mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and psychology. Not having my intellectual energy drained each day from a job means I’ll have the will power to spend a little each morning working through some reading, listening to lectures, and problem sets. I’d like to get my competency in each subject to a level somewhere between that of someone who holds a subject-specific bachelor’s degree and a master’s. – Affording myself time for extended breaks in between milestones.

15. Sailing

Boy is sailing fun. I’m not so much into racing as I am bobbing up and down on the waves while I casually meander towards an island. Weekends-only for the short boating season in New England is not nearly enough time to really get out and enjoy yourself. And how am I supposed to sail down the East Coast and bum around the Caribbean all winter if I only have three weeks vacation time?

14. Life is Short

An 18 year old American has a 25% chance of dying before the age of 65. Too many people who look forward to life on their own terms in retirement, never make it. I don’t want to be one of those people.

13. Travel

I’m not a big traveler. But it is nice to know that I can take a trip of indefinite length whenever I like. Going and living in a place for 3-6 months is much more appealing to me than flying around the world, staying in hotels, and trying to squeeze in the experience of visiting an entire country in less than two weeks.

12. Work Doesn’t Pay

I can make way more money over the course of my lifetime by investing wisely and being able to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves, rather than being stuck to a job, dependent on one company for my financial survival, and only making money by constantly physically working. What if I became disabled or lost my professional license or was suddenly fired? Much scarier than having a couple of stocks take a dip.

11. Video Games

I know people like to bash video games as an adolescent waste of time. Much like novels, which we all know are simply time robbers that corrupt young women. I think games are great fun. They are comprised of art (music, graphics, writing). And I think some of them are worthy of being called art themselves. And there are so many of them, and they’re an incredible time sink. There’s no way you can be a satisfied gamer and work 40+ hr weeks and keep a typical weekend social calendar.

10. I Hate Careerism

I don’t want to have to stifle my opinions on things because they’re not corporate-friendly. I mean, what, you won’t hire me because there’s a picture of me on Facebook advocating for the decriminalization of drugs? Even though about a quarter of your in house legal department probably uses cocaine every other weekend anyway.

And I don’t want to spend half my life reading books about how to trick human resources interviewers into liking me. And I can’t stand the way people talk about ‘networking’, as if people are simply there to be used for whatever they can offer you, rather than encouraging people to make genuine connections with their colleagues.

And if I’ve read one article on what font or paper type to use for my resumé I’ve read too many.

9. Avoiding Politics

To grow my income as an investor, I study the markets, and make rational choices about where my money can best be used to get the greatest return for the risk. To grow my income as a high level employee I have to study the personalities of people, probably half of whom I can’t stand, in order to figure just how to correctly suck up to them in order to get them to think I’m more worthy of a raise than the sociopath I’m competing with who’s much better at manipulating people than I am because it’s his life’s work. No thanks.

8. Sleep

Most people can only get a sane amount of time in their day by cutting back on sleep. But I love sleep, and I like to get 9-10 hours of it a night. Doing that, plus devoting 9-10 hours a day to a job would leave me with about 4 hours per day to myself, take out about 90 minutes for meals, 30 minutes for a workout, and 30 minutes for hygiene, that would leave me with about 90 free minutes per day. That’s not living, that’s slavery.

And I can’t stand getting up to an alarm clock.

7. Hiking

I love climbing the mountains of New England. The thing is, it takes an entire day. If you’re only free to do it on the weekend that means you can only go when the trails are crowded with other hikers. And if the weather doesn’t cooperate for your two days of freedom, too bad. And good luck trying to plan a couple of thru-hikes each year when you’ve only got a few weeks of vacation time to work with.

6. Avoiding Crowds

It’s so nice to do things on off days. The beach on a Tuesday is so much easier than trying to go on a Saturday. Less than half the people, which means half the traffic, and typically discounted prices on all kinds of stuff like parking and food. This applies to all kinds of things, like amusement parks, museums, the movies, grocery stores and rush hour traffic.

5. Cooking

I like to cook, and I love to eat. But beautiful, elaborate meals take time. Sure, you can perfect the art of throwing together a dinner in 20 minutes or less. But if you give yourself an hour or more, and have time during the day to concoct just what it is you’re going to make, you can do so much better. And there’s no big rush to get it done as fast as possible so that you can get all your other chores in before bed time. So you can enjoy the process.

4. Moving Slowly

Is there anything worse than waking up to an alarm clock, hitting the shower like a zombie, then getting out sooner than you want to so you won’t be late, grabbing something to eat in the car, and stressing out when it takes you 5 minutes to find your keys, all so you can go battle rush hour traffic? It’s so much nicer to wake up naturally, stretch in bed a little bit, maybe even do a little reading before you get up. Then take your time putting together a proper breakfast, enjoying the shower for as long as you like, and making the bed before starting your day.

3. Health

With more time for getting outdoors, cooking proper meals, getting enough sleep and having time to be active, life gets a lot healthier than grabbing food on the go, dealing with work-related stress, and having to squeeze in some kind of short, intense workout.

2. Time to Build Stuff

I’ve always built stuff that’s better than what they sell in stores. The only problem is, it takes a lot of time to do. By retiring early, with the free time available to work on projects, the cost of things will be lower, and their quality will be higher. I can actually do things like build my own furniture, upgrade the house, modify my car, and rehab second hand stuff into better than like-new shape.

1. Paid Work Isn’t Fun

Most work, no matter how interesting it is at first, eventually gets repetitive and boring. Even if I could land a magical job that is always changing and never dull, there are still going to be days where I just feel like sitting around the house, but have to force myself to go in.

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13 Comments

  1. LonerMatt
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    I loved this post, even if the format was hack-ish!

    Especially loved the part about alarm clocks and taking one’s time, absolutely resonated!

  2. Freedom_2018
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I find myself nodding vigorously in response to your reasons…except..instead of video games..it would be amateur astronomy for me..try doing that late on a weeknight and then going into work..ugh!

  3. Posted April 28, 2012 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    @freedom_2018

    Good one. I remember star-gazing often when I was studying classics and reading Ptolemy, Copernicus and Galileo which lead me to go read about optics and telescope construction. I’d love to try some astrophotography sometime too.

    “If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare.” – Emerson.

    If you think about all the things we take for granted in life, not taking a moment, whenever possible, to appreciate the beauty of the heavens must surely be one of our gravest oversights.

    #17 amateur astronomy

  4. Igor
    Posted April 28, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    How would one learn about law without going to law school? Any book recommendations (might be a cool post?)?

  5. Posted April 29, 2012 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    @igor

    It wouldn’t be easy. It’s vast and complex. If you wanted to know a lot about some little niche area, though, a couple of on-topic books can get you pretty close to being an expert in a small area. But the real trouble is you wouldn’t appreciate all the other possible consequences under other areas of the law that you don’t even think to think about.

    e.g. In writing a contract, you can study solely on how to write up a legal contract and then just draft one up, but then you’d have to appreciate that there are lots of complications if you’re dealing with a contract involving real estate, or you might accidentally write a contract that violates someone’s constitutional rights, or you might not appreciate all the various tort liabilities you’re opening yourself up to and what your responsibilities to other parties might be. And even writing a proper contract can be a massive undertaking if you want to cover every little thing.

    There must be some books out there that try to sum up the key parts of law school in a few hundred pages for the layman who wants a good overview without actually having to go to school for three years. I haven’t looked for any, so I couldn’t offer any recommendations. It does sound like good reading though.

  6. Maus
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Lists are probably popular because they resonate with everyone on at least some level, highly correlated to how many items seem personally relevant. Your list could be my list; though I admit I haven’t sailed for more than ten years and don’t have the enthusiam for it that I did in my thirties. I really liked #4, the ability to move at a liesurely pace through the world is something I look forward to immensley.

    Your list breathes with possibilities. It’s too bad Yahoo doesn’t actually have “hacks” like you.

  7. Matt
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    What video games do you play? I used to play MMOs, which is what inspired me to study computer science and earn as much money as I do, but then WoW caused a downward spiral for the better part of a year so I have lost interest.

    I also like FPS games that include a strong team element such as the Battlefield series (2142 is my favorite), and any kind of capture the flag.

    My current favorite is Starcraft 2. Such a beautiful and well balanced game! And if you get tired of laddering 1v1s there are so many custom games to fool around in. I’ve been debating on whether to get Diablo 3. I might enjoy playing it every now and then, but not enough to warrant the $60 price tag.

  8. Posted May 4, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    @Matt

    I’ve been playing a lot of Skyrim and Hegemony: Phillip of Macedon lately. I like the Total War series, and Civilization. – Basically war games, empire builders and city builders mostly. Whether real-time or turn based.

    I never got into MMO’s. I’ve tried playing EVE online a couple of times, only to be turned off after about 90 minutes of trying to figure it out and not really getting into it. I’m still open to the idea though.

    Generally, if a game is highly regarded, even in a genre I’m not really into (like RPG’s and Skyrim), I’ll try to give it a play. I loved Fallout 3, even though it wasn’t something I normally would have picked up, but the rave reviews made me give it a shot.

    As far as FPS’s go, I like playing through a well-designed single player or co-op campaign. But the multiplayer competition is just way too stiff for me. Though the highly-coordinated stuff I’ve read about people doing with ARMAII sounds like fun. – Basically having a team that meets online once a week to execute a thought ought battle plan. As far as simming goes, I’d love to get a nice wheel setup and play some iRacing too.

    I like playing through some smaller indie games now and then too. I played through Trine last fall and it was beautifully done.

    As far buying games, I’m pretty much exclusively a PC Gamer now-a-days. So I wait for the epic steam sales twice a year. (Christmas and 4th of July) For a few hundred bucks you can get thousands and thousands of dollars worth of video games by buying the publisher packs. Right now I have a bunch of games I haven’t even played: The Mass Effect series, Bioshock, etc.

    If you’re interested, I generally like the video game conversations happening on a couple of sites:
    Brainy Gamer
    Flash of Steel

  9. Posted May 6, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    I pulled the “employment plug” last October at the ripe ol’ age of 45. I missed my job (the people) and chaotic lifestyle for about three months, but am now happily settled into my new life. Knowing that I do not have to work ever again is such a wonderful feeling. Gardening was on my list, and now I have all day to do it.

  10. Posted July 11, 2012 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    It is unfortunate that our present society places so little value on silence, tranquility, reflection, and learning.

  11. lurker
    Posted July 15, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    great blog. glad I found you through MMM. but video games????!!!!!
    everything else on your list made resounding sense to me but this. how can a sensitive and smart and curious human think spending hours doing video games is okay? I am really just joking but it was like reading Henry David T. on walden and finding a passage about his Fox news fix…I plan to keep reading here though as I think you may be one of my new heroes
    I plan to ignore all posts about video games if you don’t mind.
    cheers and thanks!

  12. Posted July 15, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Hey lurker! Thanks.

    I think video games are the novels of our time. They get a bum wrap from people who think they’re a mindless waste of time. But in the future they will be considered high art. Already certain types of games are being associated with different cultures.

    You might try perusing a few sites if you have the time sometime:

    Brainy Gamer: A Professor of Theater writing thoughtfully on gaming.

    Flash of Steel: They have some podcasts where they discuss the fundamentals of what makes a game a game. Lots of nerdy humor to sit through but there are some nuggets of insight.

    Critical Distance: Might be the best place to start. They gather all the best video game writing from around the web each week and sum it all up with links.

    I suppose you could still think gaming is a waste of time. But no less so than watching films, reading novels, reading poetry, watching a play, perusing paintings, etc. I happen to think those things are some of the best uses of our time.

    I will say not all games are equal. Just like there are lots of trashy movies and novels, there are lots of trashy video games. But don’t judge the medium based on its worst stuff.

    Anyway, I’m happy to have you as a reader even if I can’t persuade you on this particular thing. We can’t all agree on everything.

  13. lurker
    Posted July 16, 2012 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    so true. I am of the novel-reading generation so movies, paintings, poetry etc. just make more sense to me and give me more pleasure (truth told I suck at video games!). On my death bed I am also quite sure I will not be muttering “Damn I only wish I had spent more time playing video games!!!! arghhhhh……fade to black”
    but since you so clearly seem to have analyzed what is important to you and acted accordingly without giving in to societal pressures to consume more than you need I have nothing but admiration for the life you have chosen. looking forward to reading more here.
    best,
    L

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